September is National Literacy Month, something near and dear to my heart as a former English teacher. As the graphic below indicates, parents can do so very much to position their children for lifelong academic success by reading with their children and encouraging their children to read independently.
An American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) News article states what we all know as parents: “reading aloud and talking about pictures and words in age-appropriate books can strengthen language skills, literacy development, and parent-child relationships.” This early emphasis on reading has far-reaching benefits: research indicates that reading proficiency by third grade is an important predictor of academic success in high school and beyond.
Not surprisingly, we take reading seriously at St. Gabriel! In addition to daily reading instruction and practice, below are a few ways we encourage our students to read, read, read!
- Our kindergartners take home a "book in a bag" weekly to read with their parents.
- All students participate in the Accelerated Reader program, starting in the second half of K5 and continuing through eighth grade.
- First-graders have 20-30 minutes of silent reading time daily to enjoy books.
- Second-graders are expected to read 20 minutes nightly and progress from reading aloud to reading silently by the end of the year.
- Third-grade reading centers include grammar, phonics, vocabulary, and spelling in addition to other reading strategies as part of guided reading.
- Fourth graders are expected to read a minimum of 20 minutes of "reading for pleasure" each night. They participate in literature circles and read fiction and non-fiction via our Journeys reading curriculum and Scholastic News.
- Fifth-grade students receive one hour of reading instruction daily using fiction and non-fiction sources, such as Student News Daily and Newsela. Whole-class book selections are paired with other content areas. Students have 60-90 minutes weekly for independent reading and keep independent reading logs.
- Middle schoolers independently read two books per quarter, at minimum, and are expected to have an independent reading book with them at all times. Fluency and comprehension are emphasized across content areas, and literary analysis and critical thinking skills are prioritized. All middle schoolers participate in writers’ workshops to strengthen and refine their writing skills throughout the school year.
I can attest to the great advantage that students have when they go on to their secondary studies already equipped with excellent reading skills. As an English teacher, I found that the independent readers in my classes also had extensive vocabularies and strong writing skills and were ready to tackle the rigorous reading included in Honors and AP classes.
We view our parents as partners in helping our students learn to love to read! Please read with your children, ask them about the books they are reading, and encourage them to find books to read for pleasure. It is a wonderful habit that will pay huge dividends for them in the years ahead!